strange home circuit issue

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Old 07-04-18, 05:52 AM
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Question strange home circuit issue

Is it possible for a particular circuit to 'die' without tripping a circuit breaker? I have outlets in 2 rooms (about 7 outlets) that seem to have died, but no circuit breaker has tripped. The only item used was one A/C through the night. None of the rest of the house has been affected. At one point in my outlet testing, I received a green-light (active circuit) in a previously dead outlet for about one second before it died again. Nothing since in any of the affected outlets.
 
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Old 07-04-18, 06:39 AM
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There is likely a loose connection someplace on the circuit. Remove that outlet that gave you the light for a second from the box and inspect the wires. If the wires are back-stabbed into the outlet, remove them and connect to the side screws. I would also do the same on all the other outlets on that circuit.

An A/C unit is a fairly heavy load that can heat up poor connections and cause these issues.
 
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Old 07-04-18, 07:12 AM
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Thanks for the response. Just opened up 5 of the outlets... what I would consider logically the possible beginning of the circuit (both ends)... the A/C outlets... and the one which briefly flashed (but hasn't since). All the screws are tight, no 'back-stabbed' outlets.. all are about 40 or so years old about now (roughly) new addition.
 
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Old 07-04-18, 07:42 AM
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Hi ed,
Just following along. Did you switch the related breaker to the full off position and then back on?
Have you identified the first box into which that circuit is wired. Most circuits are wired from box to box so one bad connection and everything downline goes out.
Copper wire of aluminum?
Be sure to check ant pigtails inside the boxes.

Best
Bud
 
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Old 07-04-18, 08:03 AM
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Is there such a thing as a signal tracer? Something I could attach to a line at the circuit breaker and trace through that circuit upstairs... tracing one wire at a time? Would such as thing indicate the place of a loose wire?
 
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Old 07-04-18, 08:07 AM
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Yes, Bud... I tripped the breaker (slowly) a couple of times. I think I checked the first and last outlet on the circuit, but it isn't as obvious as I would like it to be. The outlets I opened were old and I did not wish to pull them out all that far, but I did not detect any wire nuts behind the outlets.
 
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Old 07-04-18, 08:12 AM
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Bud... Copper wiring throughout the house.
 
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Old 07-04-18, 08:36 AM
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Old 07-04-18, 08:37 AM
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I have never used anything other than a multi-meter to trouble shoot electricity. I have found a completely functioning outlet opening the line between it and the next outlet on the circuit. If you are sure of the first one in line I would just change it out, re-stripping all the wires and reconnecting them. Another possibility is you didn't find the first outlet in the line and there is a dead outlet hiding behind a dresser somewhere. Good Luck!
 
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Old 07-04-18, 09:16 AM
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Didn't post so I'll start over as soon as I calm down, GRRRRRRR.
 
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Old 07-04-18, 09:52 AM
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For a quick way to trace a circuit you can use a circuit tracer but depending on what's connected it is not always easy. It can only be used if the power is off and it will only help you determine what is on the circuit. The signal can jump over a poor connection.

You need to identify everything on a problem circuit. Then you need to check the working devices as well as the non working devices on that circuit.,
 
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Old 07-04-18, 11:59 AM
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I very much appreciate this sounding board!
I just picked up a GCFI/Receptacle Tester. The 'bad' outlets show the "Hot & Gnd Rev" lights... every one of them. One of the GFCI outlets indicated an "open neutral".
Am I close to right in thinking that the GFCI outlet(s?) have gone bad after 3 years and somehow have messed with the rest of the circuitry?
The nearby 'good circuit' outlets indicate "correct wiring".
 
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Old 07-04-18, 12:22 PM
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I honestly don't know is this problem is stranger and stranger or what.
Just before I was to rip into one of the GFCI outlets to replace it, I put the tester in once again. This time I got a flickering indication of either "Hot & Gnd Rev" and "Hot and Neu Rev"... then my finger hit the red button on the tester which apparently tripped the GFCI outlet with a very loud snap (vocal, not electrical)... I took the tester out, pressed the reset on the GFCI outlet and everything is just fine. All the 'bad' outlets are good again, both the GFCI outlets seem happy again.
Thank you one and all...
And Happy Fourth!
 
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Old 07-04-18, 12:59 PM
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Your circuit tester is a quickie testing device. It's not designed for troubleshooting.
Based on what you are seeing on it..... you have an open neutral before that location.


You should only have a single GFI receptacle protecting additional receptacles unless they are set up for stand alone use. When a GFI opens.... the hot and the neutral are both disconnected.
 
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Old 07-04-18, 01:37 PM
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So... I may have too many GFCI outlets in the bathroom. I put two in, I should have only put one in which would have covered the other. But how do I know which one should be THE outlet? One is against the outside wall, the other next to the door.
 
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Old 07-04-18, 03:11 PM
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You can use multiple GFI receptacles if they are stand alone. That means if one trips the others remain on. If you have the other receptacles connected off the load connections of a GFI..... those should be standard receptacles as the first GFI protects everything connected after it.
 
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Old 07-04-18, 04:57 PM
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Thanks once again ~ Pete ~...
How does a novice tell the difference?

Allen
 
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Old 07-05-18, 09:20 AM
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On the back of a GFCI receptacle two of the terminals are marked LINE - these are where power comes in. Two terminals will be marked LOAD - these are where power feeds of the GFCI receptacle to protect downstream devices. If you only connect the LINE terminals, then that GFCI device is only protecting the two outlets on its face.

BTW, 100% that this problem is a loose or burned off neutral wire somewhere in the circuit. It could even be in the breaker panel itself. If this is an older house with twisted/crimped and taped splices you will unfortunately have to un-tape all those connections, check them for broken wires and re-tape.
 
 

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